I quit alcohol by mistake seven months ago. I was told not to combine a medicine I was prescribed with alcohol and obediently followed the doctor’s orders. This is the story of what happened next.
I realized after a while that a lot of people were drinking alcohol while using this medicine (nothing I would advise anyone to do, obviously), but by then, I had already held off on alcohol for two months with some crazy bodily effects as a result. Over these two months, I lost 8 kg of weight. I’m not a big guy, so that means 10% of my body vanished. You can measure body composition at my gym, so I also know that I went from 12% body fat to 6%. After that, my weight started climbing again, but my body fat percentage stayed at 6%. The weight increase instead brought an increase in strength. I went from doing 60 pushups to 80. I’m now 44 years old and have never been this strong, not even when I was a 20-year-old competitive athlete.
I changed only one thing – my drinking habit – and I was not a heavy drinker. According to my doctor friends, a change like this is likely to be the effect of a significant testosterone increase, and it’s a well-known fact that alcohol affects testosterone levels negatively. The impact of alcohol varies between individuals, but apparently, it was quite a toxic potion for me.
I have a background in basketball and wakeboarding, and my knees have been letting me know that for the past ten years or so. They have been making weird crackling noises when bending and have hurt quite a bit from time to time. All that disappeared after two months of zero alcohol and hasn't come back since. It's been 7 months since I had any pain or crackling in my knees.
My gut has also been loving life lately. Not so strange, perhaps, given that the gut microbiome is just that – a microbiome – meaning bacteria live there – meaning you shouldn’t pour antibacterial fluid on them. What is alcohol? Antibacterial fluid.
Despite this sudden Superman boost to my physique, I did weigh the benefits against the price I thought I was paying in sacrificing drinking. In August, there was a big party I had been looking forward to at Dalarö Skans in the beautiful Stockholm Archipelago. I decided to make an exception and have a few drinks that night as it was the “party of the year” after all. The first drink went fine, the second made me a bit tired, after the third drink I started feeling pretty damn tired, and after the fourth one I was done. I now felt super tired, no longer had fun, and just wanted to go home. I looked at my watch, and it was now around 3 in the morning. Then it hit me – I always feel tired around 3 in the morning when I’m out. Had I been drinking myself tired all these years?
The next weekend there was another party, and I decided not to drink at all. I now had absolutely no problem staying up until 7 in the morning. WTF?! Granted, this ADHD medication gives you some extra energy, but still, I had way more fun than I usually do. Also, of course, partying without drinking voids the whole discussion of “partying too much”, as the main consequence is jet lag from staying up late and sleeping in, and perhaps some sore muscles from dancing.
I got divorced (or separated, I was never married) in march after an eight-year-long relationship and was a bit apprehensive about quitting alcohol for this reason too. How was dating going to be without alcohol? Drinks are kind of a central part of dating culture, after all. Well – let me tell you, it’s never been more fun. First of all, I can now party as often as I want and for as long as I want, basically without consequences. I also have more fun doing it and feel way more... energetic let's say. I also feel more attractive when not drinking. Or wait – I am more attractive when not drinking. I make no claims here about the absolute baseline of my looks, but in relative terms, we all look better sober. Please don’t stop inviting me to parties, thinking that I judge anyone who’s drinking – you all look fucking amazing – but this relative difference is just an objective fact.
I can also drive everywhere – which adds a dimension of freedom to both dating and partying, especially in locations like Ibiza, where taxis can be a huge hassle. I treated myself to an absolutely stunning rocket ship of a car to celebrate this fact, and it pays for itself in savings on taxis and drinks. I have a newfound love for driving friends home at night, zipping through a beautiful moonlit Stockholm with little to no traffic.
So what about all that yummy wine I’m missing out on? I have some friends with, let’s say… generous wine budgets, where auction-procured bottles are the norm, many constituting what can only be described as cultural masterpieces. Don’t I miss that? Actually, no. And not for the reason you think. Because I do try them all. This is the benefit of quitting alcohol before you have to. I can try any wine, cocktail, or rare spirit I want, as it doesn’t in any way draw me back into drinking. My friends know that I’m not drinking, but that I do love experiencing rare wines, so they always pour me a tiny glass of everything so that I get to experience it and discuss it with them. I even did a Tequila tasting recently. This is, of course, not something you should do if you have quit alcohol because of an addiction problem, but it’s a pretty damn good reason to quit before developing one.
So alcohol sucks. But don't take my word for it. In a study published in The Lancet, the oldest publication of its kind – and one that has been called "the highest impact scientific journal in the world" – most common drugs have been ranked in order of how dangerous they are. Alcohol, while scoring "only" 4th most harmful to the user, surpassed only by heroin, crack, and meth, it's far and away the top offender when harm to others is factored in. Regardless of how much you care about harm to others, I think it's safe to say that legislation in most parts of the world is out of step with science here. When you take into account how much of the harm of other drugs is caused by the illegality itself, namely unregulated manufacturing, quality control, and sales, it's hard to argue in favor of the status quo. Changes are already underway in a number of countries and will continue as the “Reagan generation” is being replaced by Gen Z leadership. This will also add to the trend of alcohol going out of fashion. I’m not encouraging anyone to do anything, as all these drugs can be harmful to some degree, but perhaps your next drink should at least be a conscious choice, just as much as any other drug should be.
Bottom line, all this adds up to a solid conclusion for myself: I’m done with alcohol. For life. I see no version of myself ever going back to drinking. People keep complimenting my discipline in quitting, but there is really no discipline involved. I just find it more fun to live, love, and party without it. You don’t have to be an addict to quit alcohol – you can quit for fun and profit alone.